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How to Prevent Claims of Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Updated on October 30, 2012

Age-related issues occur at all stages of the employment relationship—during hiring, during employment, and during termination. The following is an overview of managerial practices which if properly followed, can greatly reduce the instances of age discrimination in any organization.

The Hiring Process

  • Create a carefully-crafted job description that is based on objective standards and accurately lists the essential functions/qualifications of the job.
  • Avoid using phrases such as “recent college grad” or “young aggressive types” in a job advertisement.
  • Place job advertisements where they will reach job applicants of every age group.
  • Do NOT conduct college campus recruitment which has the potential of screening out equally qualified older workers. If an organization does use college recruitment for hiring, it should also conduct similar recruitment events for other age groups.
  • Avoid requesting an applicant’s date of birth or the date the applicant graduated from school
  • When selecting candidates, use objective standards and job-related criteria that apply equally to all applicants.
  • Do not initiate discussions related to age during the interview. If an applicant initiates a discussion of age, avoid discussing the issue further.
  • Use performance-based questioning during the interview and avoid noting attributes about the candidate that indicate age, such as “mature”, “overqualified”, and “seasoned”.

During Employment

  • If employees are divided in teams, the teams should be equally-balanced with younger and older employees.
  • Older employees should be offered the same benefits and training as their younger counterparts.
  • Enforcement of the organization’s rules and procedures should be objective and unrelated to age.
  • During the performance review of an older worker, avoid using phrases such as “lazy” or “slowing down”.
  • Avoid mentioning age—even in jest—in emails, memos, documents, spreadsheets, speeches, etc.
  • Promotions and salary increases should be based solely on performance.


  • Employers must have an objective, performance -related reason for terminating an employee.
  • The reason for termination must be well-documented and based on specific facts.
  • Early retirement options, often called “golden handshakes, must bepresented as a strictly voluntary option to eligible employees.


The information in this article is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, comments, answers, or other communications should be taken as legal advice. The information provided is not intended to create, and viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.


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      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This hub information is helpful in writing a resume from the applicant's side as well. The job hunt is quite intense during this economic downfall. I believe that the tendency to hire younger inexperienced workers with the belief that it saves money may cost an employer over time. I agree with your statement that hiring should be based upon job performance. Having candidates give examples of past successes is a good indicator of how they would perform on a job. Geat hub writing and enjoyed reading through the content.